There’s no doubt that the way we communicate has significantly changed over the past couple of months, with more and more people choosing to stay in touch using their smartphones and computers.
Texting, video calling, and chatting on messaging apps are now the preferred methods of communication.
Indeed, the internet has provided a welcome connection to the outside world for people of all ages, but particularly for those who find it harder to get out and about.
The pandemic presented new challenges for people who were already restricted to their residences but who then had to deal with the fact that they could not be visited by their friends and family.
Fortunately, many seniors already have mobile devices, laptops, and computers that they have become accustomed to using. Many older adults are already on social media sites like Twitter.
They are enjoying the benefits of staying in touch with their children, grandchildren, and friends from all over the globe.
Why Use Messaging Apps?
All mobile phones come with a preloaded messaging app that allows you to receive and send standard text messages. Your cell phone service provider bills you every time you send a text message.
The size and number of text messages you can send are usually limited, depending on your mobile phone plan and service provider.
Another way to communicate with your loved ones is by using a third-party messaging app, which you can download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
These messaging apps use your internet plan or Wi-Fi to send and receive messages. This means there are no texting limits or charges to your phone bill.
Messaging apps are helpful for people who are communicating across a long distance because there are no fees linked to using the apps to message, send photos/videos, or video chat if you have Wi-Fi.
Just like many consumer products we have today, there are many brands of messaging apps available for seniors to choose from.
The apps come with different features, but some common features you will find in popular messaging apps include:
- Ability to get alerts each time you get a new message, just like the default text messaging app on your phone.
- Ability to send photos, video, and audio attachments.
- Ability to make both audio and video calls.
- Use cellular data or Wi-Fi to send messages.
- Most apps have versions for different operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
Best Messaging Apps For Seniors
As already mentioned, there is no shortage of messaging apps to choose from. Even the least tech-savvy or most technology-shy individuals can find a messaging app that suits their needs and preferences.
Here are some of the top messaging apps that seniors can use to stay in touch with their loved ones:
1. Facebook/Facebook Messenger
Facebook is probably the most popular social media app among seniors. Many older adults are already familiar with Facebook and are comfortable using it for sharing posts and videos.
Their friends and family members are already part of their Facebook communities, which makes it easy to stay in touch.
However, Facebook is more than just a social media app. Facebook Messenger is the dedicated messaging app for Facebook that offers a whole new range of possibilities.
Facebook Messenger is separate and distinct from the main Facebook app. However, it is easy to install and use, just like the main social media app.
Messenger includes both audio and video call features. A senior may require some help installing the app, but once that is done, they should have no problem using the app.
Facebook and Facebook Messenger are available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
WhatsApp is another messaging app that seniors can use easily, especially if they have arthritis or visual impairment that makes it hard to type. The app can be downloaded on any device.
The main advantage of this messaging app is that it allows users to send voice notes instead of typing messages. There is also a photo and video transfer feature.
This app has an in-built camera which you can use for video calls. With just a bit of training from a friend or family member, the senior will be able to use WhatsApp within no time.
Lastly, WhatsApp allows users to create groups where people with a common interest can interact and send messages to each other.
WhatsApp is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
FaceTime is an audio and video calling app for Apple devices. The app needs a good internet or signal to function properly.
Once installed, the user only needs to tap the FaceTime icon and enter a phone number or choose a number from their phone book to make a call. You can choose to do an audio call or an audio/visual call before calling.
One of the main benefits of FaceTime is that it allows group calls to anyone on your contact list who has an Apple device. The caller and recipient of the call must have a good internet connection in order to communicate effectively.
The main downside of this app is that you cannot use it to communicate with people who have Android devices.
FaceTime is available on the Apple App Store.
We have the Covid pandemic to thank for the tremendous increase in the use of Zoom and other video conferencing apps for communication.
Seniors have not been left behind, as many institutions and companies – from yoga classes to churches – were forced to hold meetings on zoom in order to adhere to strict Covid restrictions.
Many older adults, even those who initially had some challenges using the app during the pandemic, have now become accustomed to using it without any help.
The main selling point of this app is that it can be used on any device, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Zoom is ideal for oral communication (audio and video) but not so good for text messaging.
Zoom is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
When people hear “Skype,” they often think of formal meetings and workplaces, but Skype has pushed beyond the corporate boundaries to address the ever-growing need for ordinary people to stay in touch.
Skype separated its corporate product – Skype Business – from its main app to make room for people who want to use it for regular video and voice calling as well as text chatting.
While Skype is still somewhat chunky when compared to other messaging apps like WhatsApp, the app has a legacy following and maybe more popular among older adults who used it a couple of years back.
Skype may therefore be a more appropriate messaging app for seniors who have some experience and familiarity with it.
Skype is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Telegram is an upcoming messaging app that claims to be “the fastest and most-secure messaging app in the world.”
The app offers a special privacy feature that lets users set their messages to delete automatically from both devices after a certain period of time. This feature helps to ensure that the message is only read by the intended recipient.
Telegram is definitely big on privacy and security, and this is particularly useful if you are sending sensitive documents, photos, and passcodes. Telegram also allows you to subscribe to different community channels, where you can interact with people from all over the world.
Telegram is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Getting A Senior Started With Messaging Apps
Most young people today are tech-savvy and will not have any problem helping their older relatives and friends to install these apps on their phones. Caregivers can also assist seniors in setting up these messaging apps on their phones.
All that is needed is a quick setup and a brief tutorial or explainer on how to use the app.